Not a swimmer? No problem. One of the world’s largest duathlons — that’s run, bike, run, for the uninitiated — and one of the UK’s only-closed roads duathlons, the London Duathlon, returns to Richmond Park next weekend and it’s set to be a cracker. More than 4,000 of all abilities are expected to take part and there should be plenty of deer there to cheer you on, too.
The running and cycling event is one of the most popular races of the capital’s sporting calendar and a must for regular Richmond riders who fancy a rare day cycling along the leafy roads and trails when the whole park is closed to vehicles. You won’t find a more picturesque racing spot in all of London.
There are three distance options: a half duathlon, a full duathlon, and an ultra duathlon — plus an increasingly-popular relay option if you fancy taking part with friends or family. Entries close on Monday (August 28), so there’s still time to sign-up if you’re keen for a last-minute end-of-summer challenge, and locals get 25 per cent off.
Whether you’re running the race or coming along to show support, here’s our guide to the day.
When is it and what time does it start?
The race takes place next Sunday (September 3), with the first participants arriving from 7am. It’s an early alarm for a Sunday but it’s worth getting there early as there’ll be large crowds.
The ultra race (20k run, 77k bike, 10k run) starts at 8.30am, the first wave of the main duathlon (10k run, 44k bike, 5k run) starts at 9am, the second wave and relay at 9.30am, and the half duathlon (5k run, 22k bike, 5k run) kicks off at 10.10am.
Arrival times for each wave are 90 minutes before the start time and race packs will be available to collect from the race village on arrival. You’ll be emailed a QR code so just make sure you have that to hand ready to be scanned.
Where is it?
For south-west Londoners, it’s back to your favourite riding place: Richmond Park, but this time in race gear.
The event village is at the Roehampton Gate end of the park and there’ll be plenty of refreshment stalls and toilets there for participants and spectators. The closest station is Richmond.
What do I need to bring?
Race packs (collected in the race village on the day) will contain most of your essential items, including a security wristband, two bike numbers, a race number and a timing chip. For relay teams, the captain will pick up the race pack on behalf of the team.
The race number goes on your back during the cycle, and on your front during the run. They can be fixed with safety pins, but organisers recommend a race belt as it is easy to switch between the two. The bike number stickers need to be placed on the front of your bike and top of your helmet, while the security wristband must be worn at all times; without it, you won’t be allowed into the transition area.
The timing chips are reusable and must be worn on the left ankle. Once the race is finished, everyone taking part is asked to return their chip by putting it in the buckets at the finish line. There is a £25 charge for anyone who doesn’t do so. For the relay teams, the timing chip acts as a baton and must be passed between relay members throughout the race.
Other than that, you just need yourself, your trainers, your bike, a helmet and a refillable water bottle (no headphones, please) – the organisers won’t be providing single-use cups as part of their commitment to reducing the event’s impact on the environment, but there’ll be plenty of water stations on each run route and a water stop on the bike route, but only for ultra distance participants. There’ll be seven emergency and treatment units dotted along the course, too.
If you don’t have your own bike, no problem. Organisers are offering a hiring option this year, so just make sure you sign up by 6pm on Tuesday and your bike will be delivered directly to the park in time for race day. Bike storage will be well sign-posted on the day; just make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to store your bike in the transition area before getting ready for the start.
Where to watch
If you’re coming along to watch or support, make your way to the event village at the Roehampton Gate end of Richmond Park. This is probably your best viewing spot for cheering participants on as they enter and exit the transition zone between sports.
There’ll be food and drink stalls and toilets there for everyone to use. Places for the 2024 race will be going on sale soon if you find yourself feeling inspired.
How to get there
It’s going to be busy, so plan ahead. The nearest station is Richmond, which you can get to by train or by Tube, then it’s a 30-minute walk or a short bus ride ot the park.
If you have to travel by car, there will be limited race day parking available in Richmond Park. LimeLight Sports Club will be in touch with everyone who has signed up to let them know how to book a parking space, with spaces offered on a first come, first served basis.
From £44, londonduathlon.com